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Quick-fire topical thoughts + in-house articles

strategic IT consultancy

GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation

posted 5 Apr 2017, 08:37 by Roelof Iball

What is it?

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new legal framework in the EU. It explains the similarities with the existing UK Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), and describes some of the new and different requirements.

  • If you are currently subject to the DPA, it is likely that you will also be subject to the GDPR.

Who does it refer to?

  • It is for those who have day-to-day responsibility for data protection. The GDPR applies to ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’. The definitions are broadly the same as under the DPA – ie the controller says how and why personal data is processed and the processor acts on the controller’s behalf.

  • Processors: If you are a processor, the GDPR places specific legal obligations on you; for example, you are required to maintain records of personal data and processing activities. You will have significantly more legal liability if you are responsible for a breach.

  • Controllers: If you are a controller, you are not relieved of your obligations where a processor is involved – the GDPR places further obligations on you to ensure your contracts with processors comply with the GDPR.

  • The GDPR does not apply to certain activities including processing covered by the Law Enforcement Directive, processing for national security purposes and processing carried out by individuals purely for personal/household activities.

What does it mean for my business?

  • The GDPR applies to processing carried out by organisations operating within the EU. It also applies to organisations outside the EU that offer goods or services to individuals in the EU.

  • There are individual rights that need to be adhered to, both in terms of process  actions and within certain defined times.

  • Depending on your company category and/or type of data processing, you must appoint a Data Protection Officer.

What are the penalties?

  • If you infringe the requirements of the code of practice, you may be suspended or excluded and the supervisory authority will be informed. You also risk being subject to a fine of up to 10 million Euros or 2 per cent of your global turnover.

When does it affect me?

  • The GDPR will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.



Summary made from the ICO:
https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/

Device ban on flights; time to review your remote working practises?

posted 23 Mar 2017, 02:00 by Roelof Iball   [ updated 23 Mar 2017, 02:24 ]


“The UK government has announced a cabin baggage ban on laptops and tablets on direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.” 22/3/17



The recent news on the ban of certain electronic devices in hand luggage on certain flights is challenging for personal travel but now more so for the business traveller. Companies with staff travelling on business with their tablets and laptops will now have to secure the device(s) in their hold luggage which means company data is potentially at higher risk of compromise.


The ban is only on certain inbound (to the UK) from a small number of countries. But this could be opened up to include many more (all?) flights - a bit like the liquid ban that came in after 9/11.


This leads to the question of how best to minimise a potential data security breach and companies should review their travel strategy with immediate effect.

Essentially, you’re looking at remote access to the systems and data your staff need via the cloud*

  • Stow a cheap ‘clean’ device (Chromebook?) that utilises an internet browser only. (No Company files/data is stored on the device.)

  • Or access to a local (in-country) internet device and service.

  • Or if visiting a client, then possible access to a client guest device?


Be aware that a loan / guest device might have malware and can you be certain the device hasn’t been compromised?

* if you can't, make sure there's no company data easily accessed on the device: store it in an encrypted folder/drive.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

posted 20 Mar 2017, 07:47 by Roelof Iball

Businesses need to rethink their approach, and thereby their operations, to encompass the digital age and have a clear strategy to transform. Or else they will become less relevant and may even cease altogether.

Companies must be able to grasp what the disruptive digital age means to their business, their industry and their customers in order to stay relevant, competitive and valuable to shareholders.


Key Domains:

Customers, Competition, Data, Innovation, Value.


1) customers are part of a network

2) competition comes from platforms more than products

3) data is a strategic asset

4) innovation is driven by small experiments and scaling

5) value is dynamic and adaptable.

Image - Courtesy, David L Rogers



Key trends for future? Jobs will be at risk especially those that can be replaced by software; but that means the human talent will be in high demand (creative, morality…) and new opportunities that we can’t even think of will become reality.

We’re moving from being driven by Products to Services to now Experiences.



Exponential technology rate - Moore's law:

We are at a point in time where the most powerful commercial computer has the equivalent ‘organic brain’ capacity as a cricket. But in approx five years it will match that of a human brain. By 2050 it is predicted that a single computer will have the capability of ALL human brains on the planet, such is the rate of technical growth. (Gerd Leonhard)


Everything is software - what part of your business can be more s/w? Software and digital technology will take many more jobs away from what humans do currently but new jobs will be created too.


Love and pain - love what your company does, but realise it will be painful to change.

Use technology for the human benefit - not machines.

Think of the current business and the next: - The energy company, Shell, has published its transformation plans to move from fossil to wholly renewable energy.


Music businesses - look at who’s the smart business now - Apple, Spotify, Youtube … have usurped EMI, Sony, Columbia… (Graph below courtesy - Gerd Leonhard)

The traditional music titans tried to hold out and over the years sued thousands of people for copying physical music formats (tape, CD) and trying to halt the accessibility from the cloud; but in the end it is the internet companies who have triumphed and it is software that has clearly emerged.




Disintermediation is becoming even more prevalent; the reduction in the use of intermediaries as business (and esp. consumers) transact more directly rather than through third parties for goods and services.


This is what we mean by Digital Transformation and as a CEO you need to grasp what impact it's going to have on your business.


BLOCKCHAIN - What's it about?

posted 12 Oct 2016, 01:33 by Roelof Iball

There’s a lot of interest in blockchains and Bitcoin but what exactly is all the fuss about and is it really the new Big Thing in tech?


First things first: Bitcoin is not Blockchain (and vice versa). Both appear together a lot in talks and various papers but fundamentally they are two separate things:

  • Blockchain is the transaction ledger; Bitcoin is a digital currency example using the Blockchain

  • Bitcoin is in fact the first implementation of a concept called "cryptocurrency" and,

  • was the basis of a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” written to solve the double-spend problem of digital cash.


So what is the Blockchain?

  • It is an open ledger of blocks of digital transactions - a chain of data blocks.

  • Every transaction is validated by Miners and appended to the Blockchain

  • Miners are computers tasked to authorise a transaction; the first Miner to solve a mathematical puzzle gets a fee and locks the transaction in the blockchain.

  • The blockchain is a Distributed Ledger; it is synchronised across many computers and is not held centrally

  • A huge benefit for the future is in the transfer of digital assets without the usual cost incurred by a third party

    • Digital assets (not just currency) but contracts, pdfs, music etc

    • Auditable because each block is date/time stamped and has to reference the preceding block.


Image courtesy of Yevgeniy Brikman



A blockchain is a distributed database of blocks of transactions that have been verified and added to the chain of blocks


Image Courtesy Paul Baron


The technology places trust and authority in a decentralised network rather than in a powerful central institution: With blockchain, transactions become decentralised and distributed, cutting out the middleman (Centralised-financial institutions in the case of currency) and becoming self governing through peer-to-peer distributed computers.


Immutable - the blockchain cannot be hacked/changed. When a Miner solves the computational puzzle it publishes the latest block to the blockchain and all the other computers synchronise the blockchain db. Blocks tend to be appended at ten minute intervals. An attack on the blockchain to change a previous transaction would require massive computational energy carried out in a ten minute window and then to synchronise and update all peer-to-peer blockchain dbs - realistically, an impossible feat.



Google's Keynote - 4th Oct 2016

posted 5 Oct 2016, 01:42 by Roelof Iball   [ updated 12 Oct 2016, 01:19 ]

Google showed off quite a portfolio of hardware at it’s
Made by Google event yesterday - more so than Apple in fact, including new smart phones of course.

But really for us the main underlying thought-piece was the desire from Google CEO, Sundar Pichai to build an ‘individual Google’ for each user. This is the shift from mobile-now to artificial intelligence (AI)-now, and the hard work that allows for realtime two-way conversation and natural dialogue.


He described some of Google’s other interesting AI and machine learning projects, including image recognition, language translation, and text-to-speech. All of which are improving at an incredible rate (Moore’s law).


Gerd Leonhard, a futurist, conveys the premise that AI is here already and that the rate of technology growth is now about to truly explode. On his exponential chart we’re currently at ‘4’ (on the doubling step - 1,2,4,8,16...) and gives the example that the most powerful computer now has the capacity of the brain of a cricket. But in only 5-7 years from now there’ll be a computer with the capacity of a human brain; and in only 20 years that single computer will have the capability of All human brains on the planet.

What shape will Google's Assistant be in then?


If you’re interested in what was launched, here’s the list of hardware:

Two new Pixel phones, Chromecast Ultra for 4K streaming, the Daydream View VR headset, Google Home (like Amazon Echo), and a new smart router called Google Wifi.

DRPETE TECHNOLOGY EXPERTS on SKY NEWS

posted 31 Jan 2016, 04:41 by Peter Chadha

Our CEO - Peter Chadha Appeared on SKY TV last week - describing how  internationally trading companies can work outside of the European Union more successfully and more dynamically without the incumbent rules and regulations brought on by the union.  For example choosing the brightest and the best software engineers from around the globe.
SKY New TV Link

Recuiting for a Network Infrastructure Manager

posted 18 Jan 2016, 04:31 by Peter Chadha

We are presently helping a business recruit for a network manager. Details of the role below - if you need any further information email us at info@drpete.co.uk


OVERALL PURPOSE OF THE POSITION:


We have an exciting opportunity to join a dynamic, ambitious and growing company in a senior position as Network and Infrastructure Manager, based in Surrey just off the M3.


**Purpose Of Role:


The role holder will be responsible for all aspects of network and infrastructure management, including the design, operation and troubleshooting for a number of sites - currently managing c.100 real and virtual servers over several sites and largely based on Microsoft technologies. The role also involves overall responsibility for team members engaged in the ongoing management, maintenance and development of a leading ERP system.


This is a great hands-on position where you'll be exposed to a broad set of the latest technologies and benefit from a great team atmosphere.


**Skills/Experience:


**Essential Technical


You will:


  • Have previous experience managing 3rd line networks and infrastructure.

  • Be highly knowledgeable in the architecture and support of core IT systems, primarily:

    • VMware vSphere; Citrix XenApp; SAN storage systems (iSCSI)

    • Operating systems (Windows 2008/2012 Server including core competencies e.g. DHCP, DNS, AD, Group Policies)

    • Networking technologies (LAN, WAN, VLANs & VPN, WiFi) including firewall policies and enforcement

  • Be experienced in the maintenance and management of Microsoft Lync (Skype for Business) 2013 and Microsoft Exchange 2010/Office 365 email systems; email/Lync accounts, security and mailboxes.

  • Be highly knowledgeable in Microsoft SQL Server 2008/2012 knowledge (creating SQL queries, using SQL Manager); database maintenance and administration, SQL clustering highly beneficial


**People skills

  • Have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, excellent interpersonal skills

  • Have a keen analytical mind, excellent problem solving skills

  • Be a self-starter, able to demonstrate skills in multitasking, prioritising and able to work effectively under pressure

  • Be a team player

  • Have a passion for technology and learning new things


**Desirable

  • A relevant further qualification (A+, MCP, CCNA, MCSA, MCIPT)  

  • An understanding of ITIL principles

  • Experience of ERP systems e.g. Microsoft Dynamics AX

  • Cloud technologies like Azure, AWS.


**Training


  • The  employer has a great training regime. Both on the job and formal training will be offered in key technologies as required by the successful candidate, e.g. Advanced Citrix, VMware, or Microsoft Dynamics AX as required.


**About the Employer


The employer is a refreshingly different, passionate and fun-loving company with ambitious growth plans which will include a future employee ownership programme. They have a strong company ethos and team camaraderie and are looking for an equally enthusiastic team player!

 


Jitterbit and DrPete

posted 14 Jul 2015, 02:56 by Roelof Iball   [ updated 14 Jul 2015, 07:09 ]


DrPete Technology Experts was recently involved with a major client who required help with the integration and synchronisation of some of their core business systems. By using the industry's leading interface solution tool - Jitterbit - the team were able to rapidly build, test and deploy a robust interface between newly installed Salesforce (SFDC) and their established Microsoft Dynamics AX platform (AX).


Jitterbit provides a wizard, point and click, drag and drop transformation builder that was used to configure data flows between the aforementioned business applications. This has allowed the business apps to keep doing what they do best (SFDC for front end customer/sales interaction; AX for order processing and warehouse/inventory) yet still provide each other the necessary workflow data,  without duplication and performance efficiency being compromised. Other features adopted through the project included: one time data loader (data from Excel spreadsheets and other databases); data synchronisation (customer contacts/addresses etc); workflow triggers and workflow/system scheduling.
And although Jitterbit already has useful templates (for many well known business applications like SFDC and AX) to get you started,  Jitterbit UK also provided helpful guidance to some of the tricky customisation and proprietary setup at the client site.

With Jitterbit's technology solution now proven within the business, there are other initiatives in the clients' project pipeline that will benefit from the speed and robustness of deployment when applying this amazing tool.

Google's "Undo Send" is now officially a feature.

posted 9 Jul 2015, 06:21 by Roelof Iball   [ updated 14 Jul 2015, 06:04 by Stephen Hind ]


Ever regretted sending an email; fired one off too hastily forgetting a crucial recipient; or lobbed back a reply only to think soon after "oh bother". (Insert Harry Enfield character saying "now you really didn't want to do that, did you?")

Well Google has officially added the Undo Send feature to Gmail. It's been available as an experimental feature for a few years now, but it is only now that it's finally been added to the core service.

The feature - once enabled - adds a delay to your 'Send' click. It doesn't actually un-send a sent email. But by giving you up to 30 seconds from the time you click 'Send' you have the ability to stop and reconsider what you've really posted on its merry way. It could prove to be valuable thinking time!

To enable the feature - and it really is worth doing, click on the cog in the upper right-hand corner of Gmail and select 'Settings'. Scroll down to 'Undo Send' and you can select the relevant seconds dropdown option. Click 'Save' and you're sorted. Seriously, Do It Now.

Saving Money on Software Licenses

posted 1 Jul 2015, 05:21 by Peter Chadha   [ updated 2 Jul 2015, 03:47 by Stephen Hind ]


We recently have conducted a wide-range software licensing review for our client Steljes, a leading high technology distributor. Our team used traditional software audit technologies,  a hardware audit for completeness and as well as you software  auto-discovery tools such as Microsoft VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool). Our work identified areas of over and  under-licensing. We then went on to organise purchases in areas of under-licensing - optimising the type of licenses. 

As professionals involved in licensing will tell you , these days the licensing options are very wide-ranging (nee a minefield!) including rental models, outright purchases with updates and 'plain vanilla' licenses. Our consultants Munjal Shah and Jay Patel mapped out the scenarios to find an ideal fits with maximum return on investment. In addition by  leveraging our network we were able to save a further 10+% in costs. 

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